tv Inside Story Al Jazeera May 25, 2014 3:30pm-4:01pm EDT
there was a lot of laughter... >> finding her voice >> i was not a ham, i was ham & cheese... >> and turning it around... >> you don't have to let your circumstance dictate who you are as a person >> talk to al jazeera only on al jazeera america >> when people used to be arrested and charged with serious crimes against the united states and it's people, the next stop used to be a courtroom in the united states. after this latest terror trial in new york ended in conviction, we asked, why are we trying terror suspects anywhere else? it's the "inside story."
>> hello, i'm ray suarez. a jury has decided a mom at the possible in london, is guilty of 11 terror charges. american prospects charged the preacher with organizing the kidnapping of western tourists, and thing to establish a terrorist training camp in oregon. the jury deliberated on two days after a six week trial. the trial held at the district court in manhattan. in the united states, when the obama came to washington in 2009, the new president and the attorney general, eric holder, said that there was nothing stopping the u.s. from trying suspects on american soil in normally constituted criminal courts. it was an implicit knock at the bush administration, and suspects held in guantanamo.
the system for trying suspects for terrorism-related crimes is the "inside story." masari faces life in prison after the jury arrested a verdict on monday. >> he attempted to portray himself as a creature of faith, but he was a trainer of terrorists. >> reporter: known for his speeches when he was a a cleric, he was convicted on all charges. financing terror plots and putting together an extremist training camp in oregon in the late 90s. jurors wrote presented evidence, and testimony from coconspirators, and witnesses and one survivor of the kitchening, mary quinn. >> her testimony was a piece of it. there was a lot of evidence in my mind, relative yemen. satellite phone was very
significant, winding up in the hands of the lead hostage take, and that's significant evidence in my mind. >> the case ended in a month in the new york city court, blocks from the world trade center attacks. abu hasam's attorney said that he plans to appeal. >> much of the evidence is about 9/11, and aljazeera, and all of those are buzz word, and i think that it turns off the jury to the defendant long before they hear any evidence. >> he was able to testify in his own behalf. it's the first successful terrorism case heard in an american court this year. his son-in-law was the most senior al qaeda leader tried in the u.s. in march,
abu gabe was convicted of conspiring to kill americans. u.s. attorney general, eric holder, said abu hansa supported the cause of violent extremism. his conviction is as just as it is swift. this case is all the more note worthy since it continues a trend of probations and top terrorism suspects in our court system. with each having a guilty verdict against a top al qaeda-linked figure, the debate on how to seek justice in these cases is quietlying put to rest. in 2009, the obama administration said that it would seek for all of those top masterminds at guantanamo way, lug shake
mohammed. moving them to american soil could be a security threat n2009 and 2010, congress voted down bills that would have funded closing the base. >> the unwise and unwarranted restrictions undermine our counter terrorism efforts, and could harm our national security. >> instead, the top al qaeda suspects are still in prison in guantanamo, and stuck in the process of military tribune falls. under the bush administration's plan, there are legalities, defendants have attorney and get access it them. but it's not private. the suspects cannot know all of the evidence against them, and the conditions or time in custody bear no weight. the president has tried to make
good on closing gitmo, but it centers on capitol hill. if detainees were to be transferred to the united states, they would not require new legal protections, such as the right to seek asylum. >> john walker lynn, jose padilla, richard reed, abdul tall ab. all were found guilty in the u.s. and all sent to president. the attorney general's debate over how to seek justice in the cases is quietlying put to rest. is he right? are americans ready to see a steady stream of the pursued take advantage of these? karen greenburg, the director of
the center on national security law at fordham law school, and in washington, davis, the chief prosecutor of the guantanamo bay military trials. karen, how has it become working in recent shears, those cases that have been tried stateside in the federal court system? >> these trials have gone forward without much problem. there have been a number of difficult issues, including that will stopped the trials and halted them from time to time, but not in a way that was defin sieve. juries are satisfied. and judges satisfied. and the prosecutors and the attorneys play their role. there's no reason they can't be held in civil courts, and the trial
of abu maz are a is just one more way how it begins, how on the verdicts get delivered. >> now, you mentioned treatment in custody and evidence, and we can't quickly sweep by those two things. they're very big considerations when we're talking about these cases, aren't they? these men, if they come to trial in the united states, have a history. they have been held in some cases by the united states for more than a dozen years. >> right, and it's not just the amount of time they have been held, and the speedy trial issue, but the issue of how they have been treated and what they say about the interrogation techniques, or the evidence that might be used against them for others who have been used interrogation techniques. and in these cases, sometimes
the issues of potential witnesses from guantanamo, even in the domestic cases, these come up. it is a problem, and my feeling, and i would love to hear colonel davis on this, just how much, this is the reason we keep having these trials, or try to have them at guantanamo. is it really the problem of the nature of the evidence and how it was obtained as opposed to classified national security issues? >> let me turn to colonel davis, have we walked so far down this road, with the procedures put into place at the cuban base, that it's hard to back your way out of it? >> it is. i'm afraid this is the problem that we're in now. it is not that it's the right thing to do, but we have done it for so long, that no one wants to step back and say we have made a mistake and we need to choose a different path.
future. >> talking about what's different, on the cuban side. but there's an american base on the tip of yo cuba and you go to the courtroom there, what would be different from that place and what goes on there, from what you see, for instance, in abu hamza's trial? >> they have repeatedly said, the military conditions are nearly identical and almost like federal court. which begs the question, if they're that similar, what's the necessity for having the separate process? the procedures are very similar, but one thing that makes it vastly different, it's not convenient for people to get to guantanamo bay to watch a trial like it is in new york city. the government has control.
there's a problem with audio and video cutting out in the courtroom. and they were behind the glass. and guantanamo is more about what we did to the detainees than what the detainees good to good -- did to us. >> food of the poison tree problem. how was the evidence that may have been gained through coercive techniques, possibly including torture, been handled in those courts in guantanamo. >> well, the big trials, kalid shaikh mohammed, it has been along over the last years. in 2006, when i was the chief prosecutor, when the decision was made to transfer them to the sites in guantanamo, that day 14 men got off the airplane. and there was only one tried and convicted, and that was am ed galani.
and that was in new york, and his conviction was upheld by the supreme court. and his case is over and done, and he's serving a life sentence in federal prison. and the other 13 men are still at guan tan most the question of evidence, you're going to have this regardless of the forum. but from my view, with the evidence that i saw, i don't think that it presents a problem, particularly in the case of kalid shaikh mohammed in federal court when he was taken to guantanamo. it's not the question of evidence, but the question of forum, and there are some intent on maintaining the second rate system at guantanamo, that the cases continue to show are totally unnecessary, and they're allowing the victim family members their right to see justice done. >> we're going to take a short break now, and when we come back, we'll introduce
constitutional law scholar, bruce fiene into the conversation. >> al jazeera america presents the system with joe berlinger >> mandatory minimums are routinely used to coerce plea bargains >> mandatory minimums >> the whole goal is to reduce gun crime, now we've got people saying "this isn't fair"... >> does the punishment always fit the crime? >> had the person that murdered our daughter got the mandatory minimum, he wouldn't have been out. >> the system with joe burlinger only on al jazeera america
>> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. the federal jury in new york heard the terror case against him after being be convicted after all 11 counts, and afterwards, eric holder said that the debate over justice in these cases is quietlying put to rest. that may be true, but it begs the question about the terror suspects still being held at guantanamo bay. joining us now, bruce fiene, attorney general in the regan reagan administration, and karen greenburg, and miles davis. from 2005 to 2007, the chief prosecutor of the guantanamo bay
military trials. bruce fiene, before the break, we heard him talking about with relative easy, the view that the trials could be repatriated, brought back onshore in the united states and concluded here. is it really that easy to do? >> i think the answer is yes. there have been hundreds of terrorist prosecution post-9/11 in the commissions, and i don't know of a single case where the military said justice was not done because of evidence with cross-examination, and proof beyond the reef, outroots. i would like to make a comment that the military commissions are not really like civilian trials. remember, there were two counts against king george 3rd in our declaration of independence. absence of trial by jury, and
you don't have trial by jury, and in king george iii, depended on his own whims. and military commissions, unlike federal judges, are not independent of the executive branch, and indeed are part of the executive branch. those i think are staggering difference in the due process between the military model and the military commissions model. but we have certainly made through the classified military procedures act prosecutorred without difficulty, and that was shortly after 9/11. mr. chert cherto chertoff, he said that making sure that classified information was placed in the public record and the convictions. we have
post-9/11, with regard to zacharia zacarias moussaoui, he was convicted to life in prison after the jury considered a death sentence, and jose padilla, who was tried in the civilian court and convicted, and he's now serving a very long sentence. and we need to remember that initially, the idea of the military conditions was there was an urgency on the battlefield, because evidence would be lost and the need for swift and speedy justice. in the court system, there's no difference with regard to urgency, and neither is on a battlefield. we have the stage problem to make it look like we're at war when we're not. >> bruce, let me jump in there and turn that to colonel davis. idea of urgency, that very much was part of the conversation when these men were taken into
custody, and now so many years have elapsed and is that any longer part of the equation and does that take out some of the impetus for having the trials down there? >> it does. you have to look back at the framework for these military commissions, they go back to the trial in world war ii, captured by the end of june of 1942, captured and they were convicted, the case went to the supreme court and six of the eight men were executed in a span of less than 100 days. some members of the bush administration say it's swift and severe, and let's do it again. the process that we haven't used in 60 years, and it has been anything but swift and severe and secret as it continues to drag o one thing that bruce mentioned, there's a right to trial by jury. it is a trial by jury,
but it's a military jury. >> given mr. fiene's objections, isn't he right in saying that the jury, men and women in uniform, are part of the prosecuting power in this case, rather than independent of it as citizens would be? >> there's a valid argument, but having served in the military, i think you'll find that military officers are good at following the rules and being objective. you take the case of osama bin laden's driver. the court members on the jira quitted him of some of the charges and gave him a sentence that many consider quite lenient. perception that the juries are there to do as they're told, is inaccurate. >> karen greenberg, if we look back at the days that we're making some of the insurances
that we're making now, the argument was made quite forcefully that bringing just high value detainees, internationally wanted men, and suspected of some of the greatest crimes in recent history, to lower manhattan and trying them there, just exposed new york in a way that was really inexcusable after 9/11. can we take the public and the public sentiment out of this equation and just do what black-and-white letter law and the book says, or do we have to consider how new yorkers feel and the way americans feel about this? >> you know, i'm not sure that new yorkers or americans have been given the chance to go on record about whether or not they think that the 9/11 trial could have or should have happened in new york. it was something that was made by the mayor at the time, michael bloomberg, and it happened rather quickly, the
bushback from above and from the government. i just the on weigh in on the guantanamo differences, because there are major ones. in the federal courthouse in, no, the judge is in charge. what happened in guan tan morning the military commissions are such that the government is in charge beyond the judge, and while there can always be pressure on the judge, guantanamo, they intervene on what happened. and sharing evidence and communications with the defense attorney. problem with the military commissions as opposed to the federal courts, they're not proceeding. we're still waiting for the 9/11 trial to happen. it's more than 12 years after 9/11. what's happening in the obama administration, they have put
the debate aside and said, let's look at the future. guantanamo is the future, and we're going to have terror suspects that we as a country want to try. it is now moot point. they're coming into court and we're going to have these trials. one of the questions we haven't weighed in on here is do we know for certain that these kinds of terror suspects will come to federal court all the time. or will the military commission, despite the fact that they haven't been able to try anybody yet, for 9/11, will they still have detainees or suspects placed in their custody in. >> that's where we'll pick it up after the break, karen greenberg, that's an excellent question, and i'll make sure that it gets asked after the break. you're watching "inside story." >> we're following the stories of people who have died in the desert >> the borderland
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>> welcome back to inside the reef. i'm ray suarez. when president obama came into office in 2009, he promised to make good on his campaign pledge to close the detention facility at guantanamo bay, cuba. the administration wanted to try the top 9 suspects in federal court and that never happened. with the convex of al mazra in new york, with the brief time we have left, i would like to hear your answers to karen breen berg's point just before the break. that with precedent being such a powerful idea in law, is a new model being created by these onshore terrorism trials that
will, if not undo the problem in guantanamo, at least show the way forward? >> well, these aren't really new models. the models existed for hundreds of years. we have tried terrorism cases in civilian courts for a long, long time. and i do take 'um bridge with the idea that popular opinion should drive the civilian courts back to the military commissions. the reason we have independent judges with life tenure is precisely because we don't want mob rule here. it's odd. now we have a museum in new york city, celebrating those who are brave and courageous in 9/11, which is inviting, if you will, to attack those and we can't have a trial? due process takes precedence over public opinion. and there remains a tough issue, for the defendants, though
acquitted by a jury, they go back and stay in prison in guantanamo bay indefinitely because they're so-called enemy combat apartments, who can be dapped even if they haven't convicted of a crime. thank you guetta equipped and you stay in guantanamo anyway. >> miles? be meted out by popular opinion. but the way that the public has been misled by the critics. i think if the public knew the truth about guantanamo, $5 billion wasted confining people. half of the people there are cleared to go home that we don't want to keep. the success of the trials in the federal court and the harm it has done to our reputation, there's no good reason for guantanamo. so i think if the administration educated the public, you would now. >> karen, you get the last word, and sadly, it's only 40 seconds worth.
and where do you see things going. >> i think that trials are about educating the public and healing the victims, and until we have the trials for 9/11 and other terrorists on american soil, that healing is not going to happen. >> but right now, we have a situation that seemingly can't be untangled in guantanamo, and will those men still be sitting there in 2016 when we're getting ready for the obama administration to leave washington? >> i don't think so. i think that the president is serious about closing guantanamo, and may keep indefinite detention, but i think that the trials will happen before the end of his presidency and i hope so. >> it's a thorny topic and thank you for being with me today. that brings us to the end of this edition of "inside story." the program may be over, but the conversation continues. we want to hear about what you think about this or any show. log onto our facebook page and
send us your thoughts on twitter. reach me directly at ray suarez news. see you for the next "inside story," in washington, i'm ray suarez. >> good afternoon to you. this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm morgan radford and here are today's top stories. >> i'm here on a single mission - it thank you for your extraordinary service. [ cheering ] president obama makes a surprise visit to troops in afghanistan. and pope francis is in israel after a visit to the west bank. plus the ballots are in after month of turmoil. voters in ukraine have finally